P-O sweeps Bellefonte to stay undefeated in league play|
Thursday, October 18, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
PHILIPSBURG - The Philipsburg-Osceola volleyball team has been cruising through its schedule.
As the Lady Mounties entered Wednesday's match with visiting Bellefonte, the regular season had just three games left for Dave Eckberg's squad - which is 11-0 in league play and 13-0 in match play - get to fine tuned for a District 6 Class AA playoff push.
Eckberg was hoping for a sharp effort offensively from his squad, and the Lady Mounties didn't disappoint.
P-O cruised to a straight-set win behind a solid serving effort and good defensive play, as it swept the Lady Raiders 25-7, 25-10 and 25-19.
"We played very crisp offensively, especially in Games 1 and 2," said Eckberg. "We've been working on putting together a nice, solid game at the net without any hitting errors. In Game 1, I think we only had one hitting error. I liked the way we played offensively tonight.
"We did the little things right. Our serve forced them into an over-pass when they tried to play the ball up to the setter. We played well and passed the ball to our target. Morgan Williamson played well, I thought, and had really nice games in Games 2 and 3. I was looking for a very sharp performance, and I think we got that tonight."
His team's serving has been a constant, but Eckberg is hoping to take a little bit of the focus off of it in order to help the Lady Mounties' proficiencies in other areas with playoffs around the corner.
P-O finished the contest with Abby Showers leading the way with 11 service points and Emily Bush-Clark adding 10, but it was the little things that impressed Eckberg about his team's win.
The Lady Mounties' kill total wasn't as high as normal, but that came from a serve that frustrated Bellefonte into making mistakes with the ball on its side of the net.
In addition to Showers and Bush-Clark, four other P-O players ended the night with six service points apiece. Showers and Williamson each had three aces to lead the Lady Mounties.
"It's something that's gone pretty well for us all year," Eckberg said of his serving. "I'm trying to take some of the emphasis off of that, to be honest, (because) I want to be able to score points in different ways - through strong defense and mixing the sets up.
"I'm trying to take some of the emphasis off of it, but I still think we're a good serving team."
After cruising to wins in the first two games, Eckberg replaced Showers and Kylie Scovern in the third game for freshmen Hannah Shimmel and Gabby Wasilko.
The Lady Mountie duo played well in a set that the Lady Raiders were competitive, as they teamed up for four kills in the set to help P-O move to 12-0 in Mountain League play.
Wasilko closed the match out with her third service point of the set, which was an ace.
"I've seen some nice things from (Wasilko and Shimmel)," said Eckberg, "and the other jayvee players as well. I thought it'd be a good chance to get them on the court, and I told them that ahead of time. They knew they were going to play the entire Game 3. I think they were a little nervous, but they did some nice things out there. I have them with four kills."
The team-first mentality of Scovern and Showers is what has Eckberg excited about the prospects of his team come districts.
The pair combined for eight kills through the first two games, but were open to Eckberg making the changes in Game 3.
"Our big theme for the last two weeks has been to be unpredictable," Eckberg said.
"We don't want to just settle for being a team that only sets to the outside all the time. We need to try to do some different things. Hopefully, we're peaking in the next two weeks and that's what we're striving to do.
"We'll see how things play out. I think the girls have done a great job, and you couldn't ask for a nicer group. Their team chemistry is as good as I've had coaching."
The Lady Mounties return to action on Tuesday when they entertain Central for Senior Night.